Excerpt: ...of Courts again; how the judges were treated; whether
with respect or cold neglect, etc. Every colony upon the continent
will soon be in the same situation. They are erecting governments
as fast as children build cob-houses; but, I conjecture, they will
hardly throw them down again so soon. The practice we have hitherto
been in, of ditching round about our enemies, will not always do.
We must learn to use other weapons than the pick and the spade. Our
armies must be disciplined, and learn to fight. I have the
satisfaction to reflect that our Massachusetts people, when they
have been left to themselves, have been constantly fighting and
skirmishing, and always with success. I wish the same valor,
prudence, and spirit had been discovered everywhere. 117. John
Adams. Philadelphia, 7 July, 1776. It is worth the while of a
person, obliged to write as much as I do, to consider the varieties
of style. The epistolary is essentially different from the
oratorical and the historical style. Oratory abounds with 196
figures. History is simple, but grave, majestic, and formal.
Letters, like conversation, should be free, easy, and familiar.
Simplicity and familiarity are the characteristics of this kind of
writing. Affectation is as disagreeable in a letter as in
conversation, and therefore studied language, premeditated method,
and sublime sentiments are not expected in a letter.
Notwithstanding which, the sublime, as well as the beautiful and
the novel, may naturally enough appear in familiar letters among
friends. Among the ancients there are two illustrious examples of
the epistolary style, Cicero and Pliny, whose letters present you
with models of fine writing, which have borne the criticism of
almost two thousand years. In these you see the sublime, the
beautiful, the novel, and the pathetic, conveyed in as much
simplicity, ease, freedom, and familiarity as language is capable
of. Let me request you to turn over the leaves of "The Preceptor"
to a letter of...
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